- 10000 meter running: In contrast to 100 meter running, the start is of very minor importance here – even if one misses by a few tenths of a second, that will not mean much at all in a competition that takes over 20 minutes. As is the case with sprint running, each step is – for the most part – similar to the others. However, there are important differences compared to sprint running. Since the race is so long, it is impossible to run each step as fast as possible. Instead, the runner must pace himself, and he does so by Observing how he feels and the distance run so far. He also has to observe the competitors – are they flagging? Are they known as good sprint finishers, or not? Are they boxing him in so that he will have difficulties to break free for an unhindered last lap? Are they cooperating in holding up the overall speed? All that goes into the Orient phase, in which he makes up his mind on what sort of race it is shaping up to be. Once he has an opinion on that, he can Decide whether he wants to sit back in the group of runner just behind the leader, go up to slowly increase the pace, go up to repeatedly pull at the group by short increases in pace, or leave the group and run away on his own. Once he has decided upon what to do, the act of doing so is simple in theory, but it requires a lot of stamina. Taken together, this is a sport in which the Act is the most difficult part, but it is only difficult in one aspect. The three prior stages of the OODA loop are relatively easy, compared to other sports.
- 50 meter rifle shooting prone: This sport consists of a series of similar performances which all add up to a total result, just as in 100 meter running. In common with 100 meter running, but in contrast to 10000 meter running, the only reasonable overall strategy is to maximise the result in each and every one of the individual performances. An individual competition consists of 60 shots (70 for the finalists) and at all levels beyond beginner level, the shooters will be able to perform as well in the end as they do in the beginning, and there is therefore no motivation to go easy in the beginning so as to pace oneself. That is also the case in 100 meter running, in which the best runners run 40 – 50 strides during the entire competition, but it is not the case in the 10000 event, with over 5000 strides. Before the shots that count, a shooter has some time to shoot training shots, during which he will Observe the wind as seen by the wind streamers, his own result compared to dead center, and his position. He will Orient himself as to why the difference between the shot position and the dead center of the target is due to a non-optimal body position, badly adjusted sights, faulty technique while pulling the trigger, or some combination thereof. He will then Decide which improvement to make (better position, adjustment of the sights, better trigger-pulling). He will then Act firstly by adjusting the sights and his position (if applicable), and then by pulling the trigger as well as he can. He will then Observe the result of this training shot, and then repeat the training shots with a hopefully better result until he either has a satisfactory target result or until training time is up, after which he starts shooting the competitive shots. Hopefully, he will at that time not have to adjust anything, unless the wind changes during the course of the competition. There is also an inner OODA loop while shooting – the shooter will Observe by looking through the sights, make minute adjustments of his hand and arm positions to align the sights with the target center, and he will also Observe his breathing and heart rate so that he can pull the trigger while the chest is not heaving due to breathing or excessive heart beat. The orient part is which body part to move or keep still, and in which order. He will finally Decide whether to pull the trigger, if the alignment is good, or to stop, rest his body and eye, and start over if the target center and sights keep wandering in relation to one another. One way in which shooting differs from many other sports is what goes into a a good Act – in many sports it is about both doing the right thing and avoiding the errors, but in shooting the difference between a great shot and any other shot is to a great extent that that the great shot is very good at avoiding the bad movements – shooting while breathing, yanking the trigger, getting into a position that is slightly non-optimal, and so on. Any shooter past beginner level will hit the dead center now and then, what makes a shot better is his ability to do so consistently. All shots count, so the bad results really affect the overall result. Shooting does not entail any interaction with the other competitors, so the only viable strategy is to focus on oneself and repeat as many good shots as possible. All in all this means that this is a sport in which the Observe stage is very important, followed by Act.
- Deadlift: Seen from the perspective of a single lift, this is possibly the simplest sport to analyze from a OODA loop perspective. The lifter can start his lift at a time of his own choosing (within reason) and there is no other lifter whom he has to contend with during the lift. The lift consists of a series of muscle movements, and they are always done in the same order. The lifter has to Observe how far along the sequence he has come in order to start the next movement at the right time, and he has to Observe if he is lifting unsymmetrically or with any other deviation from correct form. However, those are relatively easy tasks compared to the Act of this sport. The Decide is about when to start the next movement of the sequence, but there is never (at least in a normal lift) any choice between two different options. The Act stage is the by far most difficult part of this sport – one simply must be strong enough to do the lift, there is no substitute. Seen from the perspective of a complete competition, this sport is somewhat more complex. In order to win over a roughly equally matched opponent, it is advantageous to Observe how well they are doing, Orient oneself on how much they can be expected to manage to lift overall, and then Decide if one wants to go for a high-risk, high-reward tactic of aggressive weight increments between lifts, (which might force an opponent to make a subsequent lift soon after the previous one, before he is fully rested) or if one wants to go for a more cautious approach in which one lessens the risk of failing any given lift.
I plan on writing two more blog posts with examples of how various non-fencing sports can be analyzed with regard to the OODA Loop. After that, I assume that the reader will be ready for a discussion of the OODA Loop in a fencing context.